Quarantine Kitchen: Week 2 This week recipe takes tomato soup and grilled cheese to a whole new level. Simultaneously cozy and delicious, it's the perfect meal for the fall season.

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woke up yesterday to the exciting realization that soup season is no longer approaching—it has finally arrived. On my morning run, the 49-degree chill biting at my shoulders had me flipping through my list of favorite bisques, broths, and chowders. While I debated detailing the ins and outs of a sophisticated white bean chili or a fall squash and black pepper purée, there is truly nothing more comforting than a bowl of thick and hearty tomato soup. Top it with crusty cheese-filled croutons accompanied by a sprig of thyme and you have an elevated childhood dream. While it might be tempting to tip a tin of canned tomato glop into a pot and simply reheat, this homemade “cup of goodness” is well worth the little extra effort. With colder months approaching and school/work schedules ramping up, I bring to you my take on a classic comfort sure to satisfy the child within. 

DISH: Rustic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese “Croutons”

INGREDIENTS:

For the soup:

1 ½ medium yellow onions

3 peeled cloves of garlic

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

Plenty of cracked black pepper 

2 cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes

4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 sprigs thyme

½ cup coconut cream (optional; creates more of a creamy bisque texture)

*Finely grated parmesan cheese, chopped basil, or a diced sprig of thyme for garnish

For the grilled cheese “croutons”:

1 loaf of your favorite bread (I typically use a crusty baguette or a thick country loaf)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

1 clove peeled garlic

Plenty of grated cheese (Cheddar, Gruyere or Havarti are my favorites for melting)

*Want to make it more grown-up? Truffle cheese or a small splattering of white truffle oil elevates these croutons to a new level.

RECIPE:

Note: I always like to start out by chopping up and laying out all my ingredients when making any soup. I think it helps me to stay organized, and then it becomes a simple game of just throwing everything into the pot. 

For the soup:

  1. Finely dice 1 ½ medium yellow onions and three peeled cloves of garlic.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic to cook for around 7-9 minutes, making sure to stir frequently. You want the onions to be translucent and slightly golden on their edges.
  3. Add tomato paste and a tablespoon of brown sugar straight to the pot. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes. 
  4. Add in chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and thyme (you will pull out the sprigs later) and bring the ingredients to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it simmer for approximately 45-50 minutes. Taste periodically and season with more salt and pepper.
  5. Once the flavors have fully melded, blend the soup in a Vitamix or blender. Tip the mixture back into the pot. 
  6. Stir in the ½ cup of coconut cream. This step is optional but adds another level of flavor and creaminess. You may also use heavy cream instead of coconut if you prefer.
  7. Let the finished soup sit covered with the heat off while you begin making your grilled cheese croutons.

*To serve: Ladle the soup into a bowl and garnish with diced thyme, parmesan cheese gratings, and cracked black pepper. 

For the grilled cheese “croutons”:

  1. Heat a griddled skillet. 
  2. Brush both sides of the bread with your reserved olive oil. 
  3. Rub a clove of garlic onto the bread to infuse flavor. 
  4. Add your choice of grated or sliced cheese to the unoiled sides of the bread and close the sandwich.
  5. Flip until both sides are golden brown. Remove from the heat.

*To serve: Cut the sandwiches cleanly with a sharp knife into small pieces and drop them in the served soup for beautiful floating grilled cheese croutons.

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About Alexandra Morin